We gave it an A-
Ready for a quick pop quiz? Who wrote ”Wish I had the charm/To attract the one I love/But you see I’ve got no charm”? If you figured such unmitigated mopery could only have come from Steven Patrick Morrissey, give yourself 10 points. Your Arsenal is the former Smiths lead singer’s fourth solo album, and criticizing it for the inclusion of lines like the above is almost beside the point: Morrissey deals in dolorousness the way Jackson Pollock dealt in paint. It’s his medium. The question is, given his subject matter, how does he fare? Quite well, usually, despite the unusual variety among his collaborators. This year’s model, Alain Whyte, provides the very melodic, sometimes rockabilly-inflected settings Morrissey demands, and frequently they end up triumphant, as on Morrissey’s portrait of teenage fascism, ”The National Front Disco,” or the coursing single on the subject of reverse schadenfreude, ”We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful.” Sure, Morrissey can be a bit irritating when you’re not in the right mood, but when you are, he’s nonpareil.